LINCOLN, Neb. -- Despite rainy, windy and cold weather, No. 1-seeded California lived up to its billing by winning the NCAA Central Regional by 20 shots Saturday at the Firethorn Golf Club. The Golden Bears led after each round and finished the 54-hole tournament at plus-45 897, ahead of Kent State (917) and Texas (919).
The title marks Cal's seventh this season, which may be an NCAA all-time record, and advances the No. 3-ranked Bears to their third straight NCAA Championships May 20-23 in West Lafayette, Ind. In addition to Kent State and Texas, the other five teams advancing to nationals out of the Central Regional are Purdue (926), Nebraska (928), Wisconsin (930), Florida (932) and Tulsa (934).
Cal carded the top team score in each round - 292, 292 and 313. Senior Vikki Laing and junior Claire Dury led the Pac-10 champion Bears to their third consecutive team title and first-ever regional crown by finishing second (218) and fourth (221), respectively. Laing, the 2003 Pac-10 champion, started the day in first with a one-shot lead over Wisconsin's Katie Connelly, but Connelly was able to overtake Laing by one shot after firing a final round of 76 to Laing's 78.
Dury climbed from a tie for 12th after Friday's play by sharing today's low round at plus-2 73. The New Zealand product is used to competing in poor weather and was at minus-three through 11 holes. She led the Bears with three birdies Saturday.
Rounding out the Cal finishers were junior Sarah Huarte in a tie for 12th (227), freshman Sophia Sheridan in a tie for 31st (232) and senior Ria Quiazon in a tie for 71st (243).
NCAA Central Regional
Firethorn Golf Club (par 71, 6033 yards)
TEAM SCORES (PAR 284/852)
1. California 897 (292-292-313), 2. Kent State 917, 3. Texas 919, 4. Purdue 926, 5. Nebraska 928, 6. Wisconsin 930, 7. Florida 931, 8. Tulsa 934, 9. Texas A&M 935, 10t. Oklahoma 936, 10t. Kansas State 936, 12t. Missouri 942, 12t. New Mexico 942, 12t. TCU 942, 15t. Arkansas 944, 15t. Baylor 944, 17. Michigan State 947, 18. Tennessee 948,19. Indiana 949, 20. Yale 1002, 21. Southern 1078.
TOP FIVE INDIVIDUALS (PAR 71/213)
1. Katie Connelly (Wisconsin) 217 (71-70-76), 2. Vikki Laing (Cal) 218 (69-71-78), 3. Malinda Johnson (Wisconsin) 219 (73-73-73), 4. Claire Dury (Cal) 221 (75-73-73), 5t. Christine Boucher (Kansas State) 222 (73-72-77), 5t. Sarah Sasse (Nebraska) 222 (73-75-74).